European Boycott of Seal Products—World Trade OrganizationPublished on 29 May 2014 Hansard and Statements by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette (retired)
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette:
I have a question about a current issue that I have worked on a lot in the past few years. As you all know, unfortunately Canada and Norway failed to have the World Trade Organization’s decision overturned. That decision states that the European embargo on Canadian products derived from seals is justified on ethical and animal welfare grounds. We all know that this decision is based not on scientific fact, but on public opinion that has been manipulated by vegetarian multinationals.
I have two questions about this. First, how will the Government of Canada respond to this ruling internationally? Second, is the government planning to challenge these multinationals, especially on image rights, observation permits and their misleading fundraising tactics?
For the benefit of our colleagues and especially our fellow citizens in northern Canada, we know that, at the moment, the population of harp seals on Canadian coasts is approximately 9 million. Canadians already know that, embargo or not, people will continue to kill seals to cull the population and ensure stable fish stocks, just as Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland — a Danish territory — and Finland do.
The difference is that, without an embargo, we have markets and we can continue to process the animal into derivative products, such as food products, fur garments, medicinal products and drugs. With the boycott, the seals are simply being killed and their bodies are usually burned. This shows how ridiculous the European boycott — which is supposedly an ethical boycott for animal welfare — really is.
Leader, the Inuit population is extremely concerned about Europe’s decision, which was upheld by the WTO. I would therefore like to know what measures the Canadian government plans to take to support these people. How will the government help them in the meantime until this completely ridiculous issue and this decision are resolved to ensure they do not suffer as a result?